Maddd Science

Solo: A fun time. The surprising stuff was good, the perfunctory stuff was bad. But the plot made more sense than Rogue One. And not to get into spoilers, but that uprising from an oppressed class halfway through was a nice worldbuilding move. How has that never come up in a Stars Wars movie before?

I agree with one main complaint against Solo — how inessential it is — but I'm actually totally okay with it. The IP-focused cinematic universe is modern Hollywood, and Star Wars is a great universe that can and should be the setting to a few hundred semi-disposable movies. After all, Lucas based it all on weekly serials like Perils of Pauline, which were as disposable as they get.

Star Wars does need to start expanding into even weirder genres, though. Or at least use my idea for a Boba Fett movie, which is to set it after Fett's death in the original trilogy and center it on a would-be bounty hunter who finds the Boba Fett armor and decides to impersonate Fett, Dread-Pirate-Roberts-style. And make her an alien shapeshifter, so that we can finally get an alien protagonist in one of these movies.

Disney, Economic Gravity and Vibranium Physics
Matthew Ball, Redef

Under Disney’s model, only eight to ten films would be released annually (versus the historical Bix Six average of 20+), each of which would have a massive budget but even larger audience appeal. This strategy puts more money on the line, but derisked this investment by focusing it only on content that could reliably persuade audiences to turn off Netflix, get in their cars, drive to a movie theater with convenient showtimes and available seats, park, buy $10 tickets, sit through commercials and trailers as the adjacent seats fill up with strangers, watch the film for 150 minutes while holding off the restroom, then return to their cars and drive home.

Here's the snarkiest, crankiest version of those Easter Egg roundup articles that you'll ever read:

74 'Star Wars' Questions 'Solo' Insisted on Answering
Dan Gvozden & Andrew James Myers, Hollywood Reporter

Q: Why does Han reply “I know” when Leia confesses her love to him?

A: Because Han has always acknowledged other characters expressing their feelings about him with these exact words, such as when Lando says “I hate you” and Han replies “I know.”

Here's something about how IP like Star Wars took over Hollywood.

How Superheroes Made Movie Stars Expendable
Stephen Metcalf, The New Yorker

Where once an agent was, as Roussel puts it, “a creative entrepreneur” whose bread and butter was “her close relationship with star talent,” today a Hollywood agent is “an expert in conducting risk-controlled investment strategies by securing the rights to film franchises and ‘sequelizable’ productions,” someone “whose practice resembles that of certain professionals in the world of finance.” The personal style of agenting has evolved accordingly. As one agent explains, in the old days “you were very interactive.” To close a deal with a producer, you would “get up and step in, you sit in front of them, in the front of the table, you push a picture over.” The ethos now, the agent says, is “clinical, digital, and clean.”

And a related interview with someone who's still making the lowish-budget film work in the genre that still loves it, horror.
Leigh Whannell Helped Define a Decade of Horror — and He’s Still Going
Jordan Crucchiola, Vulture

"Now, between YouTube and streaming and gaming and VR, people are more interested in recording their own little Snapchat videos than they are in seeing a movie, and I feel like movies have had to move in a direction of events. They have to be more than a movie. They have to be this Zeitgeist-dominating sledgehammer that comes out, and people line up for those movies like it’s part of their civic duty."

How Dostoyevsky Predicted the ‘True Crime’ Craze
Jennifer Wilson, New York Times

As true crime shows continue to proliferate today, Dostoyevsky’s evolution as a crime writer could prove instructive in expanding the genre’s reformist potential. While true crime podcasts and television series admirably shine a light on the cases of people trapped in the contradictions of the American justice system, equal attention should be paid to stories of restorative justice, like that exemplified by podcasts like “Ear Hustle,” which is produced by inmates in San Quentin State Prison in California.

Summer Reading: Thrillers
Charles Finch, New York Times

But the thriller is new money. Where did it come from? It has indistinct antecedents in the adventure novel, the spy novel and the hybrid midcentury experimentations of Elmore Leonard, but realistically, the answer isn’t pretty: Its pure form was the invention of Robert Ludlum and Frederick Forsyth, who set their lone heroes loose against immense forces in the 1970s and haven’t come back for them yet. The genre spread fast and hard — America had all that unmelting, isolate, stoic toughness, and, with the west at last wholly settled, nowhere to put it, fictionally. Eventually an Englishman came up with Jack Reacher. Now a non-trivial percentage of us is convinced that biology teachers should carry guns.

Finally, here's a Reddit thread I found interesting, in which everyone points out examples of the untitled trope where someone interrupts a lecturer to tell them they need to go on an adventure. Cf. Good Will Hunting, Young Frankenstein, the first episode of Hannibal. TV Tropes definitely needs to add it. I like the name "Catalyst Lecture," although someone attempts to sell this thread on "Poopy Professor" instead, to predictable reactions.

What is this trope called, if it even has a name?
u/ristaai, r/movies

When a professor is teaching some esoteric but vaguely related to the plot subject and an old friend sneaks into the class and stands/sits at the back, and then as class ends, the old friend tells the professor that he needs his help to save the world/embark on a quest?

I’m thinking specifically of Indiana Jones and maybe Inception, but I feel like I’ve seen this in a lot of 90’s B-horror/sci-fi movies.

Next Week on Maddd Science: Chesley Bonestell

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Header image: "resistance is fuel," by Daniel Williams.

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